Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chance Ate Sassy

Emily Matchar's new book Homeward Bound has a lot more going for it than just the fact that it shares a name with one of my favorite childhood movies (I heart Chance). Homeward Bound is an honest look at the return to domestic art hobbies that women (and some men) have taken back up since the start of the new millennium, what Matchar refers to as the "New Domesticity."

The New Domesticity is about returning to our roots after the consumer craziness that was the 1990s, Matchar says, and a way for third wave feminists to reclaim the traditionally feminine roles and assert the worth of these downcast occupations. Moreover, the new domesticity is being embraced as a revolutionary way to stop relying on the system for food, protection, and income. It's a return to self-reliance, a la Thoreau, Also, knitting is right fun, yo.

However, there is a negative side to the New Domesticity: women are leaving the workplace in droves, convinced that the 1950s-housewife role is hip and feminist, now that the patriarchy is supposedly dead. The only problem: it's not dead, not even close. Women still don't earn as much as men and are forced out of the workplace if they decide to have families. Maternity leave, standard in all other developed countries, is pretty well nonexistent here (not to mention the recent political references to "binders full of women" and "illegitimate rape"). Still more troubling is the fact that all these women rushing back into the home are giving up the ability to earn an income, relying instead on their lifepartners, which is all well and good unless that lifepartner either a. leaves or b. becomes unemployed.

I'm a sucker for the New Domesticity, but there has always been a few things about it that leave me cold, like how going DIY is still pigeon-holed as women's work. It's all well and good to reclaim women's work and call it worthwhile, but when men still look down on it, the whole operation becomes a giant step backwards. Then, there's attachment parenting, which I've never thought was a good idea. (Be there for and give in to your kid every second? Yes, that will definitely help them learn independence and realize that sometimes they just can't get their way.)

I love so much about the New Domesticity (Hello, cooking and knitting blog...), but I love that Matchar was willing and able to shine the light on it's drawbacks. Chapter after chapter revealed women giving up their independence to become happy homemakers while their husbands paid the bills. I want to learn to can jam as much as the next person, but I am not willing to give up my status as a wage-earner to do it. I worked too hard to get here.

Everyone should grab a copy of this book. It's a fresh perspective on modern culture, politics, and feminism. When it comes to the career world, men are still eating us alive, ladies, even as so many women are proclaiming that feminism succeeded and can take a back seat. It's eye-opening and highly interesting. It says what needs to be said, and let me tell you, as a female breadwinner (who also knits) with a stay-at-home husband, I felt like a real hardcore feminist after reading this book.

Solidarity, my sisters. Let's march.

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